Because that's the kind of quality creativity one can expect from an M.J. Fifield story.
Just kidding. Well, maybe just kidding. I suppose the jury's still out on that one.
Anyway, Mercenary Guy came about because of a pair of comments from a pair of Effigy beta readers in 2012. (I have NEVER been accused of rushing anything.) Each of them expressed a desire for a certain character's (sorry...trying to avoid spoilers where possible) horrible painful death. I was okay with this because this certain character is one that people are supposed to hate. He's not a villain that you're supposed to like in any way, shape, or form. He's not Loki.
This certain character is an evil jackass who deserves to have a piano as well as every other instrument ever made dropped onto his head. Twice. And then twice more, just for good measure.
And because of this, I had made plans to have Karma come and bite this character right in the ass in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature. The comments from my betas didn't change this. What they did change, however, was the manner in which I intended to see it done.
While I am not a complete pantser these days, I'm not a complete plotter either, and so I had only the barest of outlines for a karmic payback scene in mind, but still, it was a plan that involved two certain characters being in a certain place, and all of a sudden, one of them wasn't going to be there anymore.
The change, I think, is quite good. Or, it could be. It'll lead to a very important catharsis for a central character who really needs a catharsis in this book. It's kind of awesome. Or, rather, it could be kind of awesome provided I don't royally screw it up. And since that scene isn't yet complete (and possibly never will be, knowing me the way I do), I suppose the jury's still out on that, too.
But the change, as potentially awesome as it might be, left a big, gaping, black hole right smack dab in the middle of Lineage (part two of Second Nature), and I needed someone to help fill it.
So I went through the roster of available characters looking for someone to take the place of that one certain character. Second Nature is an epic-ish fantasy (sorry...I'm uncomfortable with labeling this as 'epic'...feels boastful) and, as such, has a large cast of characters. Not Song of Ice and Fire large, but there are still a fair amount of characters—and all of them, every single last one, had a prior engagement and no real reason to be where I needed them to be.
So I thought about it for a while. A long while. Hit the fast forward button (Finally, I know!) until we come to November 5th, and the birth of Mercenary Guy.
|Hey, look what someone (not me) made!|
When I write, I generally create dialogue first, then go back and layer in setting and action and whatever else needs to be added. Almost every single scene I've ever written began with two or three lines of dialogue. I'm just a dialogue girl, I guess, and in the first scene I wrote for Mercenary Guy, it only took about five lines of dialogue between him and Second Nature's main character for me to decide that I really liked this guy.
So I think I landed in a pretty good place. I think he just might work out. Which is nice because I do love to fill plot holes. Besides, I like him.
And that statement is pretty weird because (a) I still don't know everything about him and (b) I do know a lot of the horrible things he's going to do. It leaves me feeling conflicted—but that's another post for another day.
Here's what I do know about him:
And while his rates are high, the quality of work is, too, so you can rest assured that if Mercenary Guy takes on your job, you will get what you want. Morals aren't a concern, so there is no line that Mercenary Guy will not cross to make your most evilest of dreams come true.
|Moriarty is not impressed.|
He is brilliant, cold, calculating, cruel, terminally amused, and a shade sarcastic (but of course he is. I wrote him). It turns out that I like writing this character quite a lot. Which is why Mercenary Guy—who was slated to burn brilliantly but briefly in Lineage and die in a sure-to-be-exciting sword fight or something like that—got himself a lovely stay of execution instead. Considering I still need the sure-to-be-exciting sword fight, and considering Mercenary Guy still needs to (just barely) lose this fight, I don't know how that's going to be possible yet (maybe Sherlock series three will provide some inspiration?), but I feel like he's too fun a character to kill off at this point, and I want to have him available for future storytelling purposes. I'll just have to make it work.
But it's open season on every other character. Well, maybe not every other character. But definitely some that readers wouldn't expect.
And there I go again—getting ahead of myself. I guess the point is that Mercenary Guy is another example of how very little I am actually in charge when it comes to my characters and the writing of this series. Even though I strive for the opposite, my characters always just come in and take over. They scoff at my calendars and storyboards and just do whatever they want.
And I let them. Because—for the most part anyway—I think they know best. But know this, Mercenary Guy: if you outlive your usefulness, I will end you.
And now I shall end this post because it's gone on for a very long time now and has been, quite possibly, the most boring thing you've ever read (assuming you've even made it this far—and if you have, thank you). So I thought about closing out this post with a snippet from the first scene I wrote for him, that conversation between him and the MC. I combed over this scene and dismissed posting the vast majority of it because it was too spoiler-y. So below is what I finally decided on. It's not overly long (unlike this post, I know) and doesn't even tell you Mercenary Guy's true name (though he does have one. More than one, actually), but it's still a first draft and it still cracks me up to see things like 'Mercenary Guy drank some wine.' I'll fix it later...
"You're going to be sorry," Cate said.
Mercenary Guy drank some wine. "I'm going to be rich."
"And that's your guiding star?"
"Easier than morals, I find." He looked at her for a moment, then sighed. "But despite my better judgment, I do like you, my lady, so please allow me to offer you some advice."
"Never hit a man with a closed fist? Never get involved in a land war in Asia? Never wear white after Labor Day?"
Mercenary Guy's mouth quirked with another smile. "Give them what they want," he said. "Now. Or yesterday, even, if you can find a way to accomplish that."
"Angling for a bonus, are we?"
"Angling to avoid doing to you what I'm going to do."
"Well, thanks for the concern, but I'm not very inclined to do you any favors."
"The favor would not be for me," Mercenary Guy said.
So thank you for stopping by today and slogging through this monster post. It's much appreciated. And, as always, I'll try to do better the next time. Until then, take care, everyone.